About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How can I get rid of Red Squirrels?

How can we get rid of red squirrels in our yard.  They are destructive and tear up things to use for nests. - Bath MI area

I’m sorry I can’t be of much help. Please don’t live trap them. They are taking care of babies now and shouldn’t be separated from their young. Wild Birds Unlimited has feeders and houses with lifetime guarantees against squirrel damage. We’ll fix or replace any feeder with the guarantee. We also have poles and baffles that can stop squirrels.

You probably don't want to put up a squirrel house. Or maybe you do. The red squirrel is a very solitary little creature. In fact, each female takes it upon herself to defend a territory that ranges in between two and five acres. Not only do they defend their territory from other red squirrels, they also defend it from other species of squirrels.

A two weeks old squirrel baby (Sciurus vulgaris).
Two week old Red Squirrel
They breed from March until May, and then again from July until September. Their gestation period lasts for forty days, and then they give live birth to a litter of three to six baby squirrels. They are helpless and hairless when they are born and stay with their mothers through the summer.

I know certain wildlife can be a problem. We have bunnies in the yard that go around lopping the heads off our crocus. Our squirrels dig up plants, attack feeders, and destroy bird houses. The chipmunks dig in the garden and steal lots of bird food. Raccoons are the classic night-burglars and can cause lots of problems in the yard. But I love them all, even the occasional and sometime not so occasional stinky skunk.

They all have purpose. Bunnies can be prey for other animals and trim vegetation. Squirrels and chipmunks are also prey for hawks and other animals as well as seed spreaders. Skunks and raccoons are predators in their ecosystems and play a significant role in controlling lawn pests.

I’m sorry the squirrels are being so destructive in your yard. Michigan is a beautiful green place to live with lots of nature to observe. I have found that it is much easier to learn to coexist with nature rather than trying constantly to fight it.

I think we have to keep in mind that humans cleared their sheltering forests, cut down the dead trees they nest in, removed many of their natural food sources as well as natural predators, and otherwise upset the balance of their native environments.

The next time a Red Squirrel comes clambering around your home looking for nesting material or in search of food or shelter, try to see things from their point of view. They always seem to be angry about something. I wonder if they’re thinking “How can we get rid of those humans in our yard. They are destructive and tear up things to build their houses.”
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Jeff Jones said...

I have all of the above in my backyard outside of Nashville and I too love being able to help them in any way I can. I actually feed my squirrels and make sure to properly baffle my feeders.

In over 7 years of bird feeding, I've only had one feeder destroyed by squirrels.

The saddest part for me is how short they seem to live in suburban areas due to humans running them over.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you. All wildlife should be enjoyed and not harmed. I love squirrels, raccoons and skunks and love to observe them if they are in my yard, at a safe distance of course.

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

I don't know why I get the most responses on my squirrel posts, but thank you for your comments.

With backyard squirrels it's sort of like we're playing a mini game of the TV show Survivor and humans have to try and "Outwit, Outlast, Outplay" the squirrels. Not an easy task.


Alfred@Getridofmice said...

With their strong teeth, squirrels can chew through just about any material. Switch to metal garbage cans as well as rodent-proof storage containers to completely protect pet food and trash from squirrels.